The New England Patriots could have one of the biggest stars at the defensive end position on their hands if Chandler Jones can make the jump, and many, including me, have him tabbed for a breakout season here in 2013. Jones showed a lot of run-stopping ability last season, but he will go as far as his pass rushing goes. Jones has an insane amount of length and athleticism, and he is much stronger than initially advertised when coming out of Syracuse. Last season was a promising rookie campaign for Jones, and we can only hope that his sophomore season will be the year he becomes a nightmare for quarterbacks and continues his solid work against the run.
New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) celebrates a sack on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Here’s what Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said about Chandler Jones and his length during yesterday’s conference call, “I don’t think you can argue Chandler is a long guy – he has long arms, long legs. Hopefully, that’s something he can use to his advantage like guys that have played before that are long like him. There’s different leverage that comes with that length than maybe a guy with different size numbers. Certainly playing with that length the right way can help him.”
Long arms in combination with a strong upper body leads to a nightmare scenario for offensive linemen, and that’s exactly what Richard Seymour had.
Cornerback Aqib Talib also looks to have the stars aligned for a big year, and the one-year, prove-it deal should go a long way in providing some added motivation for Talib to buckle down and have a truly great season. Talib is excellent in press coverage, but it would be nice to see him not get burned as much against quicker receivers, and he could stand to be more consistent. Through the offseason, Talib has looked like a man determined to have a huge year, and an elite season from him would do wonders for a Patriots secondary that still has some question marks (mostly at strong safety) heading into the season.
Here’s what Patricia said about Talib, “Very, very happy with his work and his ethic that he comes in as far as this guy studies film, he really practices hard, he competes every day. He’s a good example on the field for those guys who are coming into the program to get in behind him and follow along. It’s been good to have him through training camp, like everybody that we have. Obviously, the more you’re here, the more we can get down and improve upon. It certainly is beneficial to have everybody as long as we can from the spring all the way through. ”
Happy with his work ethic? He won an offseason award on that merit, and the praise of Talib’s work ethic is certainly encouraging news.